I just renewed my library card.
Our town doesn’t have a library. For borrowing privileges, we must purchase a library card from another library. Now, before you gasp and say poor Penny, bear in mind that if you have a library in your town, you most likely pay for it through your property taxes whether you have a library card or not. When we moved here, I shopped around, calling surrounding libraries, to find the library with the lowest charge. It was rather fun, actually.
The first year, I purchased a card from the library with the lowest non-resident fee. The second year, when I went to renew, a librarian suggested I try another town that she thought was cheaper. Never underestimate the knowledge of a librarian. She was right, and I have gotten my library card from a little ‘burb 10 minutes down the road. It is a very small library. This evening, there were young children reading, older children working on computers, adults browsing the bookshelves, and a woman learning to read in English. I could hear her accent as she plodded along, word for word, determined to learn, as her tutor encouraged her progress. I admired her determination and her tutor’s commitment.
Libraries provide so much more than books. They provide services and technology for those who do not have it. They have information boards and daily newspapers, magazines and music, and places to meet others. Next time you visit your library, take a few moments and look around. Really look and listen and observe how alive with services and activities your local library is.
Up until this year, our town reimbursed homeowners up to $100 toward a library card. A pretty good deal. I pay $200 and got $100 back. Unfortunately, with budget cuts, the reimbursement program was discontinued this year. Still, $177 (the fee was reduced). That is less than $15 a month. I left tonight with three books and an audio tape. A biography of Alcott, a soup cookbook, and a children’s book all followed me home. I can keep them for three weeks, I can renew them online, and I can return them to any library in the system. I can go online at 2 am in my robe and slippers, put a book on hold and within a few days check it out.
Just think about this. In my library system alone, thousands of books are passed around each and every day, checked out or returned. Thousands more are toted from one library to another for booklovers, knowledge seekers, and wordsmiths alike.
This week is Banned Books Week.
Our libraries strive to provide books and services for everyone. In doing so, they preserve our first amendment rights.
What have you read lately?
I think we are fortunate to have them, don’t you?
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